Landlord Tips: What To Do If a Tenant Damages Property
Landlords with hostile tenants are often left with few options. Being a landlord means you have certain responsibilities when it comes to your tenants. Along with this comes some nightmares as well, when you have irresponsible tenants damaging your property.
The situation is frustrating, but you have legal means to overcome the loss. After all, you will have a security deposit provided by the tenant at the outset of the contract. With adequate proof, you will be able to deduct the loss amount from this sum.
If you are wondering what to do if a tenant damages your property in Ontario, read on.
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Reporting Damage To The Property: Who Is Responsible For It?
Tenants are responsible for reporting damage to the property to the letting agency or directly to the owner. Once they report the damage, you need to address what will be done in terms of repairs or replacements. However, these agreements usually do not happen amicably. Therefore, make sure that the tenant agreement comes with adequate clauses on property damage.
However, certain grey areas do exist even in the most sure-fire tenant agreements. In these cases, the tenant might refuse to shell out the repair costs.
Property Damage Vs Wear And Tear
As a landlord, you should be prudent enough to understand the difference between intentional damage and naturalwear and tear. When it comes to the latter, you should not deduct any amount from the tenant’s security deposit. To make things clear, here are a few examples.
Instances Of Wear And Tear
- Breaking down of appliances due to daily use and ageing
- Property damage arising from extreme weather conditions
- Redecorating and painting expenses
- Marks or scratches on door handles, wooden furniture, worktops, or any other surface
- Soft furnishings like curtains, sofa covers, and pillows undergoing wear
- Upholstery and furnishings undergoing discoloration
Instances Of Intentional Damage
- Breakage of windows without extreme weather conditions
- Damage inflicted during celebrations or parties
- Soft furnishings incurring cigarette burns or stains
- Pets inflicting damage to appliances, furniture, or property
- Incorrect use leading to damage to electrical appliances
- Broken bed frames, tables, and chairs
What Should You Do If The Tenant Is Not Responsible For The Damage?
Sometimes, property damages take place accidentally by neighbours, guests, or even workers. In these situations, you would be solely responsible for fixing the damage. This might include leaks from a neighbouring property or damage to the exterior, roof, or your windows due to the renovation of your neighbour’s property.
At times, workers tend to inflict accidental damage from tools. Having specialist insurance to get compensation for these damages would work. You might also speak to your neighbour regarding these damages.
After instances of burglary or vandalism, where the tenant is not at fault, the landlord needs to repair the damage. If there are broken windows or other components at your home, you cannot hold the tenant responsible.
When Should A Landlord Make Deduction From The Security Deposit?
As per the existing laws, any damage caused by the tenant or a person visiting the tenant should be compensated for by the tenant.
As discussed, if any damage to your property occurs during the tenancy that would not be attributed to burglary, vandalism, or natural wear and tear, you can recover the loss from the tenant’s security deposit.
However, you should have adequate evidence to prove that the tenant is at fault. In case the damage is serious enough, you reserve the right to evict them on the grounds of contract breach. It would be wise to go for legal advice before you proceed.
Deducting Money From The Deposit
When you deduct money from the tenant’s security deposit, the tenant reserves the right to check out the receipts. Also, they can dispute the costs if the situation arises.
If you feel that the damage is serious enough to incur huge costs, it’s wise to seek legal counsel. Moreover, landlords should have adequate property insurance in place to recover losses. In case the tenant refuses to shell out the compensation, you have the right to approach the court based on the tenancy agreement.
What To Do After You Discover Damage Caused By The Tenant?
Firstly, make sure to take videos and pictures of the damaged components or areas to document the loss. This would help you to establish the level of damage. The images should have a date and time stamp on them.
Next, you need to proceed to the repair process and eventually deduct the amount from the security deposit. Therefore, gather bids from reputed contractors for the repairs. Once you get the estimates, you can decide the contract to go with.
Accordingly, you would receive a receipt for the costs, which the tenant might want to check. Make sure to keep the bid copies with you, as you might need them in subsequent court cases.
Now, inform the tenant about the amount that you have deducted from the security deposit. Send an itemized list of repairs that you had to undertake for the damage caused to your property.
Now you know what to do if a tenant damages your property in Ontario.
Being a landlord, you might encounter difficult situations with errant tenants around. If the situation demands, you might seek law enforcement through courts. In order to seek legal help, you would have to produce adequate evidence through images or videos.
You might eventually call the local police or reach out to the civil court to seek restrictions. Reach out to the experts for advice at any time. Lastly, don’t forget to get your property insured to compensate for damages beyond your affordability.